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20 Years ago today

20 years ago today my Daddy went home to be with Jesus. He was born Billy Ray in 1956 to a very poor family. Daddy grew up living in tents in national parks around the US. His father was a sever alcoholic and the entire family reaped his abuse.

Dad's very first pair of shoes were given to him by his teacher. After several weeks of coming to school bare foot the teacher felt moved to buy Dad a pair of shoes. Dad often told me about that teacher.

Dad grew and had many challenges and burdens in his life. He was born a juvenile diabetic and dealt with sickness his whole life.

Dad met my Mom when he was just 18 and she was 25 and already the mother of 2. I was 18 months old when Dad and Mom got together. Dad never had a proper example of how a father should act so he did his best. He made mistakes but he sincerely tried to be a good father.

Dad had developed some very bad habits and had an addiction to drugs. He used drugs as one would cigarettes but I never thought anything about it, this was normal for our family.

When Dad was 32 he developed sores on one of his feet, the end result being amputation. After 5 hard years Dad had lost both feet and was now diagnosed with a systemic bone disease brought on by the diabetes and drug use.

Dad lived a very hard and painful life and through it all he had no one to lean on or turn to. Dad didn't know Jesus and didn't know how wonderful His comfort could be.

At 17 I moved out of our troubled home and into the home of my husband's family. The laws were laid out in the beginning; what was allowed and what wasn't. For the first time in my life I realized that my family wasn't normal. Families actually ate together, went to church together and talked sweetly to one another. Life was totally different in his family.

Just after I turned 18 Johnny and I were married. A month before the wedding Dad had a stroke and was paralyzed on his right side. He was very worried about walking me down the isle, and pleaded that he didn't have to. Despite the wheel chair, Dad did walk me down the isle. It was wonderful holding Dad's hand as Mom pushed his wheel chair down the isle.

A few years later Johnny was preaching and I had begged Dad to come. He had been in church once in his life and that was for our wedding. He said a few choice words and then informed me that he wouldn't be coming to the church, not today, or ever. Imagine my surprise and elation when the back door opened just after the congregation began singing it's first hymn.
My Dad, my Dad had come. I had been praying for years for his salvation and here he was. I sat in the pew the entire time praying and begging God to save my Daddy. As Johnny concluded his sermon and began the invitation my heart yearned for Daddy, I begged God and then it happened; Dad got up on his prostheses and hobbled down the isle. I almost stood on my pew and clapped when Dad bowed his head and asked King Jesus to save him. Dad was never the same.

When I was pregnant with our second son Dad began to develop sores on his fingers. As the months passed he lost one finger after the other. Dad was now a man with no legs and the possibility of loosing his ability to use hands.

Within the next several months we spent many a night at the hospital with Dad. He wasn't every going to get better and there was nothing anyone could do. I began praying that God would take him, he was already living the worst nightmare possible. I asked Dad often if he was sure he would go to heaven if he died and his answer was always the same, " Yes Sister, I would." My worry was eased and I begged God to take him home and end this misery.

Sitting in my mother-in-law's living room the call came and I knew this was it. Dad had been taken to the hospital and was not expected to live. We rushed to the hospital and I knew Dad wouldn't be going home. I sat on the side of Dad's bed and held his hand. Near the end he lost his eye sight and eventually fell into a deep sleep. I held his hand until his heart beat for the last time. He had such a serene look on his face and I knew he was with Jesus.

My Dad wasn't the best father and he didn't instill the wisest insight but he was Daddy and I think my Heavenly Father for every moment he let me spend with my Daddy.
Today, 20 years later, I still miss him. 

21 comments:

  1. Brought tears to my eyes.

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  2. What an amazing story of God's providence for you and ultimately for your father. Thank you for telling it.

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  3. Thank you for sharing that. How wonderful that your father received our Lord.

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  4. As I read this, I could just imagine God's hand guiding your Dad and you. Things could have turned out so differently, but for Him. I know you still miss your Dad....I feel the same about missing my own, after 22 years. What joy knowing your Dad is with Jesus.

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  5. What a beautiful remembrance, Tori. Thanks so much for sharing it. God is so good. I'm so thankful that your father came to know Him.

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  6. Oh, Tori! Your beautiful story brought on the tears. I'm so thankful your Daddy received Jesus.

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  7. I loved this. Thanks for sharing.

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  8. This brought tears to my eyes, too. Especially since my dad is in the hospital right now and I'm not sure he's going to live. So glad your dad turned to Jesus before he died.

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  9. Tori, your story reminds me that God is in control of all situations and He has plans that are so great!!

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  10. Praise the Lord he was saved! Thanks for sharing. I know you try to stay more on the surface than sharing intimate details. I'm sure this post was hard on you. I was crying reading it!

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  11. I enjoyed reading your dad's testimony. My father was an alcoholic and not saved until he was 61, so there are some similarities. He was the one family member whom I thought would be the hardest for God to get through to, but he was the first! I'm so thankful for His amazing grace.

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  12. A very touching tribute to your daddy! Someday you will see him in Glory and that is worth letting him go from this hard life he lived. Hugs to you my friend. ;)

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  13. Praising the Lord for His Grace! So glad your daddy accepted the Lord! My mom will have been gone 20 years this October. My Sweet Grandpas birthday is tomorrow and he went to be with Jesus just a week ago. So glad we will see our loved ones again in Glory!! Sending special hugs your way from Japan.
    Shellee

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  14. Oh, Tori, I see a lot of similarities in your story and mine. My daddy didn't get saved until I was 17. Before then, I saw a lot of ugly. I had him for another 17 years before he passed away when I was 34. The last 17 years, he tried his best to make up for the early years. He did a good job.

    No matter what, we love our daddies! So glad yours made the right decisions in the end.

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  15. What a wonderful example of how God can truly change lives!!! I'm so glad that he got saved that day and you can see him again one day!

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  16. A great tribute to your dad. I can see why you're proud of him and so thankful he heard the Good News.

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  17. Such a beautiful tribute! I was also blessed to sit with my mom as she entered Heaven's Gates. Thank you for sharing this part of your life!

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  18. Love this tribute, Tori. My Dad went Home in June 2014, and the grief is still very raw. But I am thankful to know that I will see him again.

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  19. Praise God for Grace!!

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  20. I've missed your posts and do hope that all is well. I just wanted to let you know that you are cared about and have been on my heart.

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  21. Wow. What a story. It touched my heart very deeply. My dad became a alcoholic when i was 10.. Had a similar story of being poor. We went through some very bad times. I was very close with him and grew apart he gave me a bad time. He was already in church and a elder. I left at 16 I couldnt take no more. We had ups and downs he finally stopped do to getting sick. For about ten hears or so. I took care of him later on mama refused. But all of a sudden he started drinkin again and two weeks later died I was relieved God for give me. But its true. Im glad your daddy found jesus and you were with him. My mama died almost three years ago. And im struggling with it everyday. And recently I acually thought about my daddy. He died 13 years ago.. Sending love and hugs may the lord bless us both with comfort. With love Janice..

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